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When it Comes to Data- Don’t Spend On a Celebrity Quarterback

on October 07, 2014

It’s the beginning of the National Football League (NFL) season in the US and the Barclay’s Premier League (BPL) season in England.  At the beginning of the season, even recently struggling teams like the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and the BPL’s West Bromwich Albion dream of league success and toppling the traditional juggernauts like the Seattle Seahawks and Chelsea Football Club.

But it’s also the time of year when you start to see the consequences of bad investments made during the off-season.  In the NFL, some teams see that spending all of their money on a fancy, high-priced, celebrity quarterback is meaningless when they haven’t assembled an offensive line to protect him. The Washington Redskins and Robert Griffin III are the first that come to mind in the NFL; it’s hard to throw touchdowns planted in the turf.  And it’s hard to keep the other team from scoring when all of the money has gone to pay your high-priced quarterback.

In the BPL, I can’t help but think about venerable Manchester United. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of pounds assembling a star-studded roster of midfielders and forwards but they’ve got a back line vulnerable to a strong wind.  It’s hard to score enough goals to win when your midfielders are constantly tracking back to save a struggling defensive unit.

CFOs are often caught in the middle like this.  On the one hand, they overwhelmingly want to improve the quality of the financial and performance insight obtained from the data they create. On the other hand, CFOs don’t always trust their data.  Add to this the competition they often face for CIO face time and data analysis priorities, and the result is over half of CFOs focus primarily on manual and/or spreadsheet-based analysis exercises.

This equation reverberates throughout the office of the CFO.  The T&E, purchase card, and accounts payable managers all find themselves relying on manual and/or spreadsheet-based solutions for data analysis with the objective of measuring performance.  Chief marketing officers (CMO) are often competing for CIO time and data analysis project priorities as well. In many ways, CMOs are the high-priced quarterback in the NFL or the high-priced midfielders and strikers of the BPL, while the CFO is like the defense—hanging on with resources depleted by paying for the high-priced offensive stars.

An alternative for everyone in finance is to leverage cloud-based data analysis solutions.  Cloud-based solutions can remove the intrigue from sophisticated analysis by taking on the heavy lifting involved in normalizing and applying sophisticated analysis techniques to the data. Cloud-based solutions also are able to present the analysis results in a way that promotes action.

Some teams re-build, others re-load.  In the NFL, the New England Patriots are a great example of a team that re-loads.  They do this by leveraging the NFL equivalent of cloud-based solutions: by not spending outrageous sums of money, but also not shying away from big investments in key positions like the quarterback. It’s the “middle of the road” approach.  They feel comfortable doing this because they are confident in their ability to leverage other skills to meet the overall objective.  Leading businesses find this “middle road” in data analysis by leveraging cloud-based data analysis solutions like Insights On Demand.

Oversight Insights On Demand was developed to address operational performance management challenges that exist in many organizations. It takes on the burden of sophisticated data analysis and then packages the results into actionable views that allow the office of the CFO to address opportunities in the disbursement processes. At Oversight, we like to think of our cloud-based analysis as the free agent offensive tackle or free transfer defender of your data team- the ringer who comes in to fill the void needed to unleash the power of the offense. What could be better?

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